Today we did a 12-kilometer hike through the Sierra Norte with Tierra Ventura Ecoturismo. Starting in Latuvi and ending in Lachatao, we learned about many medicinal plants from Javier, our native, Spanish-speaking tour guide. After the hike we sat inside an ancient temascal (steam bath) where we sweated away stress and toxins for 75 minutes. In between all this, we enjoyed gorgeous scenery and munched on sublime Oaxacan food.
The steam bath was part sauna and part time machine back to a simpler time when creating non-collapsing buildings was something of a miracle in itself. In ancient times, temascals were used to purify the body after hard exertion. It was also used to cure the sick and for women to give birth.
None of us were ill or pregnant, but we still appreciated the experience especially after hiking eight miles through the mountains. Imagine crawling into a stone oven three feet tall by four feet deep in your underwear and doing nothing but meditating. Or joking around while your Spanish-speaking tour guide occasionally splashes water on hot coals to increase the heat and humidity.
It was very relaxing for both the body and the mind, and prepared us for a good night’s sleep before continuing our trek through the Sierra Norte the following day.